Asking PTO For Money

Submitted by Laurie Zentz, Jacksonville, Florida

Idea posted 2002-09-10

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I like to use math in my favor when asking for ANYTHING for my music classes. Use the numbers - how many kids you teach, how often you see them, and for how many hours each year. Remember you are speaking to some of the most involved PARENTS in the school. Appeal to their desire to have the best experience for their child. I'm at a huge school of 1,100 kids, and my argument would go something like this:

"I want to give the kids the best, most effective instruction I can, every time I see them! I only get to see your children for music once every 9 school days, for 40 minutes. Everyone knows that active, hands-on experience is the best way to learn! I want to teach them to make music, not just teach them "about" music. If I have 25 Orff instruments, then a whole class can play at once (or change this to sharing with one person if that's more realistic for you...); then your child doesn't have to wait his/her turn while 4-5 other children take their turn. In a 40-minute class period, lots of precious time can be used up while giving kids their own hands-on experience while others wait. Maybe your child would have to wait 2 weeks to get a turn. It's incredibly more effective if all the kids are getting the full benefit of having a real musical instrument to learn on without having to share with their classmates. The Orff xylophones are such a great visual for teaching many different concepts in my curriculum. They are also a great vehicle for creativity and improvisation. The act of playing the xylophones even helps improve their singing because of the physical actions involved! Kids can see and feel the leaps and steps. The benefits are great!

"Time is at a premium when you teach a resource class. I only see your kids for 13 hours a year! The more I can get them involved practicing skills, the more they learn, and the more it transfers to future learning. Although they won't have to share their turns during their music time, they will be sharing the instruments with the other 1,000 kids here at school. So, the money spent actually goes a long way when you realize that all 1,100 students will benefit for as many years as they attend school here. These instruments will last for many years, and the cost is actually comparable to the instructional materials needed in other subjects, such as textbooks (which go out of date), science equipment, and computers (which go obsolete) as well. Here is a list of what we need to have for every child to be able to sit and learn at the same time in music class..." Then pass out your list with prices.

Of course, every school is different, and you'll need to adjust to fit your population. You may only want enough for half the class to play, and that's OK too. Sharing with one other person is much different than sharing with five! And don't feel like you have to apologize for asking for a couple of thousands of dollars. You are reaching a lot of children! Some people agree to a "one instrument a year" plan. That takes FOREVER! I say go for at least half the number of students you have.